topPhotography Homepage | Philosophy and Ethics Homepage

Playa del Ingles

Like many visitors arriving on Gran Canaria, we were shifted straight from the airport down to Playa del Inglés, a huge resort in the very south of the island. Some complain that it lacks character, but, quite apart from the range of hotels, it has two significant things to offer – the nearby Dunes at Maspalomas and the motorway. 

Taken blindfold to the centre of the dunes, you could imagine yourself lost in the middle of the Sahara, were it not for the significant number of footprints slowly receding into the contours of the sand.  Look seaward from here and there is nothing but the Atlantic stretching away south. Turn back and you see rows of palms against the while of the hotels. Best come early evening, when the dunes are bathed in softer light and lovers sit on the cooling sand watching the sun go down.

The other huge advantage of staying in Maspolamas or Playa del Inglés is the ability to get out of them quickly in any direction in order to explore the rest of the island, grab a hire can and explore!

Blossom in March...

blossom

plants

While much of the coastal strip is arid, the mountains of the interior are quite fertile, with blossom - particularly on the Almond trees in March.

Roque Nublo

Roque Nublo

From a distance, Roque Nublo looks quite small. It is only as you approach that you realise just how massive is this central volcanic heart of Gran Canaria.

Puerto de Mogan

Puerto Mogan

A few miles down the coast from the huge resort of Playa del Inglés and Maspalomas is the delightful Puerto de Mogan, with its fine beach, marina and working harbour. Flowers and palms set off the white-painted houses and even the shops and restaurants, although serving the same tourist needs as elsewhere on the coast, seem to blend together to give the place a more distinctive character. 

Fish at Puerto Mogan

The fish in the harbour of Puerto de Mogan are remarkably enthusiastic for a chunk of bread!


 

 

Gran Canaria

Dunes at Maspolamas

Dunes at Maspolamas

Watching the sun go down... a wonderful spot for lovers, mystics, poets and naturists!

Dunes at Sunset

Hotel Servatur Waikiki

Hotel Servatur Waikiki

One of the many hotels at Playa del Inglés. Some are quite happy to spend their vacation round the hotel pool, supplied round the clock with food and drink. Personally, I have a low boredom threshold, so we took a hire car and headed inland.

Into the mountains...

Mountains on Gran Canaria

Driving north from Maspolamas, the road winds upwards into the mountains and into a world far removed from rash of hotels along the coast.  Here the main hazard on the road comes from the cyclists, who use these mountains to push themselves to the limit. It makes you feel almost guilty changing gear as you struggle to overtake the muscle pumpers as they sweep round one hairpin bend after another.

Fataga

Fataga

The little town of Fataga, spreading out below its church and square, sits in a valley made more fertile by the careful use of water and terracing of crops.

Get above the clouds!

Mountains and cloud

When its cloudy on the coast, just drive up into the mountains. Here's the view down from the route up towards Roque Nublo, fine weather above the clouds.

View of Tenerife from Roque Nublo

Tenerife

One of the most publicized walks on the island is up to Roque Nublo, a massive rock left by erosion from the centre of the original volcano, from which you can look out, above the clouds that shroud the sea, toward Tenerife, and the snows capped Mount Teide.

Puerto de Mogan

Puerto Mogan

Puerto Mogan

Fish at Puerto Mogan

The water in the harbour at Puerto de Mogan is remarkably clear.

Troglodytes of Guayadeque

Guayadeque

The valley – green and leading us up into clouds on the day we were there – is remarkable for the number of troglodytes who occupied its steep sides.  Their caves, almost inaccessible high on the cliff faces, were easily defended but must have made daily life quite precarious. There is a very informative museum in the valley, well worth a visit for the information about the geology and fauna as well as its history and the remaining troglodyte inhabitants.

I assumed that the simple stone tools were the relics of a civilization from a couple of thousand years ago at least. In fact, the value has only been settled for 500 years ago. People were still living quite a primitive, neolithis lifestyle in this isolated part of the island at a time when missionaries and traders used the Cararies as a staging post for the exploration (and exploitation) of the New World.

To enjoy the valley on foot, drive as far as you can, then park and follow the track into the upper part of the valley. You find yourself in a world that is utterly different from that of the hotels on the coast.

 

Gran Canaria makes a wonderful holiday destination almost all the year round, but particularly in early Spring, when the climate is comfortably warm and the vegitation on the mountains fresh and green.

It's also a great place for photography - as usual, I took my trusty Nikon D810, with a 24-120 f4 lens, a useful combination for travel photography. (Along with another body and four lenses, most of which stayed in the bag. More sensible by far to travel light, even if a zoom lens cannot match primes for absolute quality. )


There are plenty of good guidebooks if you are planning a trip to Gran Canaria.

For a quick overview:

 

There are also guides for car tours and walks, for example:

 


 

 

At one time, we would have gone equipped with maps for our motoring trips, but this year we simply relied on Google Maps, with a strange familiarity as my iPhone told me which way to turn out of the hotel.